RECIPE – Holiday Appetizer Ideas

by Henry Gould – Dec 10th, 2019

Whether you’re hosting holiday parties or attending them, it’s good to be a generous host / guest. Don’t ever, EVER show up empty handed. Always ask what can you bring? And if they say nothing, then bring an extra bottle of wine, flowers, a candle, a puppy, or something else they didn’t ask for but would definitely want.

If you’re hosting a holiday party, it’s always good to be over-catered. Too much food is nice for leftovers, but more importantly makes guests feel welcome. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank. If you go to the deli section at the grocery store and buy the pre-sliced prosciutto and 4 different kinds of cheese, you’re out $70 without breaking a sweat.

Instead, try a few of the below ideas. They are very simple to make, universally appealing to the majority of people, and will make you look like you know what you’re doing.

All are basically variations of stuff to serve on toast or crackers, but could easily be eaten on their own.

White Bean Dip w/ Rosemary & Roasted Garlic
  • 1 large can of white cannelini beans
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon

Take your head of garlic, and cut the top 1/3 off with a sharp knife, exposing some of the cloves. Put onto a piece of tin foil, drizzle on some olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then wrap up. Put in a 350F degree oven for 40 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.

Drain the can of beans, then put in a food processor. Squeeze out all the roasted garlic and add the rosemary. Pour in quite a bit of olive oil, as well as salt, pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Blend until smooth.

Have a taste. It should be smooth and creamy, rich, and well seasoned. If there’s not a decent amount of acidity (from the lemon) and salt, it’s going to taste very bland and unappealing. Be brave!

Serve with bread, crackers, chips, or raw vegetables.

Duck & Pork Rillettes
  • 500g pork belly
  • 1 duck breast (skin on) or duck leg
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 1 bay leaf

You’re probably thinking this is a weird thing to include, that it sounds complicated, and you’re never going to make it. Please reconsider. It’s unbelievably easy, almost foolproof. You could overcook the meat by an hour and it would still be great. You can also make it a week before your party, as it keeps well in the fridge.

Take the pork belly and cut it into chunks and put into a bowl, along with the duck breast or duck leg. Season aggressively with salt. If you have time, allow to sit overnight.

Put the meat into a pot, add the garlic cloves and bay leaf, then cover in cold water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, put a lid on, and cook for 2 hours.

Once cooked, take the meat out and put into a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid. Using two forks, shred all the meat together. It should pull apart easily. Slowly add some of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the mixture. You don’t want it dry, but you also don’t want it wet. It’s going to be served cold, and therefore needs some of the natural collagen & fat in the cooking liquid to help keep it together. Sort of like tuna mixed with mayo for a sandwich.

Shred and mix well until it’s pretty consistent, then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Taste? It should taste really good.

Put into a container and allow to set in the fridge overnight. Serve with dijon mustard and miniature pickles on bread or crackers.

Roasted Peppers with Burrata and simple “Salsa Verde”
  • 3 Red Bell Peppers, cut into 1 inch squares
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1-2 balls of Italian burrata cheese
  • 1 bunch of parsley, washed and dried
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 anchovy filets
  • 1 tbsp capers

To make the salsa verde, add the parsley, garlic, capers and anchovy filets to a blender. Drizzle in some olive oil and then blend. If it’s not blending, add more olive oil or a little water. Once blended, season with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss your red peppers into olive oil, salt and pepper, then put onto a roasting pan. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, then take out and give a shake. Continue roasting until nicely brown and soft but not blackened.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool. When ready to serve, put the peppers into a bowl and drizzle in balsamic vinegar and a little more olive oil. Serve with the salsa verde on the bread or cracker, then the burrata and peppers on top.

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